UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean


Sub Region agrees on Prevention of Youth Violence

© UNICEF Costa Rica/2007
Mr. Nils Kastberg, Regional Director of UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean, joined by Ms. Mayela Coto, Vice Minister of Justice in Costa Rica, closed the activity stressing the importance of working to prevent violence among and against youth.

San José, Costa Rica, 16 November 2007 - In spite of the fact that most governments within Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic have adopted policies and programmes related to violence prevention, most focus on social control and repression, rather than addressing the problem beforehand through prevention.

Authorities from Central America, Mexico and the Dominican Republic agreed on the need to implement programmes focusing on prevention which proactively address the needs of young people during the Subregional Conference “Peace and the Prevention of violence against youth,”

During the closing Panel, Mr. Rene Figueroa, Ministry of Public Security- El Salvador, Ms. Laura Chinchilla, Vice President and Minister of Justice- Costa Rica, Partrico Zuquilanda-Duque, Organization of American States and Minister Daniel Delgado Diamante, Ministry of Governance and Justice- Panama, discussed their government’s plans in relation to youth violence Prevention. Vice President Chinchilla also read the agreement made by Ministers from the region.Experts, Ministers, Ambassadors and other civil servants analyzed the increasing crime rates and feelings of insecurity over the last ten years within the region. These factors negatively impact a country’s development as well as the inhabitant’s quality of life. Children are especially vulnerable to these factors as well as suffering from violence. Youth are also becoming more involved in acts leading to violence such vandalism, drug and alcohol use and violence itself, at younger ages.

During the conference, authorities agreed that youth are most affected by violence, and committed to: include alternatives that promote integral development of the youth population and take youth opinions into account, within national agendas; mobilize and direct resources to programmes that create opportunities through social inclusion, violence prevention against children and social reinsertion for children involved in conflict with the law; promote laws prohibiting all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment, and; commit to create information systems on violence, starting with improving, updating and promoting those of police and judicial statistics related to children.

In the closing ceremony, Nils Kastberg, Regional Director of UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean emphasized UNICEF commitment in supporting governments in the sharing best practices for violence prevention  and creating new and better opportunities for children and adolescents within the region.

© UNICEF Costa Rica/2007
A theatre group conformed of youth from Guatemala, presented their play on Violence prevention to pick off the last day of the Conference. Also, a group of adolescents from Costa Rica expressed their thoughts on violence prevention.

Adolescents speak out against violence

As an important part of the Sub regional Conference, the Ministry of Justice and UNICEF organized an exchange of experiences between a youth theatre group from Guatemala and adolescents from Costa Rica. During various presentations and other activities, the two groups shared their experiences and their opinions on preventing violence among and against adolescents.

At the end of the experience, the adolescents wrote a declaration called “Demands require contributions” which they presented during the Conference. The document clearly expresses the fact that in Latin America youth represent the majority and that they deserve more recognition budgets, decision making and participation.

The adolescents also expressed their ability and desire to contribute to reducing crime and violence, recognizing these factors as severe limitations to the fulfillment of their rights.

The declaration also included the need to:

  • Improve education
  • Promote cultural activities
  • Improve healthcare services
  • A theatre group conformed of youth from Guatemala, presented their play on Violence prevention to pick off the last day of the Conference. Also, a group of adolescents from Costa Rica expressed their thoughts on violence prevention.Create and apply laws preventing practices of child and adolescent exploitation
  • Create more adequate paying jobs for youth
  • Promote free spaces for children and adolescents to learn technical skills, helping to lower school dropout rates and child labour

As part of their willingness to take responsibility, the adolescents from Guatemala and Costa Rica committed to:

  • Reject being victims of violence and acting out violently in their homes, schools, with their friends and in their communities.
  • Uphold a permanent commitment to familiarize themselves with the topics which affect them.
  • To not lose hope in preventing violence.

For Costa Rica, the Conference serves as an acknowledgement to the work which is being carried out in relation to the prevention of violence. The government recently released its 2007 – 2010 National Plan for the Prevention of Violence and Peace Promotion, “Un Pais sin Miedo” (a country not afraid).

For more information
Xinia Miranda. Communications Officer UNICEF Costa Rica. 296 2034. xmiranda@unicef.org
Michael Martin. Communications Assitant UNICEF Costa Rica. 875 6359. mimartin@unicef.org

Emilia Segura, Press, Ministry of Justice. Tel: 253 00 96


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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